It’s happened again. The fourth ever-growing Psych Fest over Liverpool way went down this weekend. Each year the festival grows in scale and the brethren similarly increases. The city was bathed in the glorious sun of an Indian summer as all things psych came to flower.
Without further prevaricating, let’s look at what colourhorizon witnessed. (It may be prudent to mention that the weather was maybe too nice and got in the way of the serious business of the music).
R. Seiliog, aka producer Robin Edwards got the party started, using just a laptop, a guitar and a drummer to get heads nodding in the District venue. With the focus on motorik groove and a lightness of touch, a bit of Krautrock was perfect to get the juices going.
Wandering into the second half of Dengue Fever’s set was a delightful surprise. 60s Austin Powers vibes mixed up with world music and some gloriously spry guitar work led to an irresistible colourful pop cocktail.
Three South American bands playing the Furnace were getting a lot of buzz on the Friday as must see bands: Vuelveteloca, The Ganjas and Chicos De Nazca. I caught The Ganjas and was simply blown away by a performance best described as what stadium rock could be. This band channeled Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at their most sublime and stylish. Suitably backlit to fuck they were bombastic, grand and utterly cool. More than just rock ‘n’ roll though, their sound was expansive enough to incorporate a stunning reggae song in the middle of their set and elsewhere threw in a rich sonic palette of exploding elegance.
Click to listen to The Ganjas
Also in District were Evil Blizzard. It seemed an odd choice to put a band with such a sizeable cult following as the Blizz, with a bouncer letting people in two by two, like chavs at a crappy city centre nightclub. Wedged in and following sound problems Evil Blizzard got going, probably a surprise to the unwary. Boasting 4 bass guitars and drums and played by blokes in masks, they’re fairly full on. Yet do not make the mistake that they are tuneless. Hell, with four bass guitars how much rhythm do you need? The result is music you can’t keep still to; deep, guttural dance music played with a ferocious intensity by a band whose intimidation can outweigh the humour. Finishing their amazing set was their new single ‘Are You Evil?’ which is basically a punk song. Anyone who thinks that psych music can’t boast a singalong chorus needs to check this out, with the crowd roaring along. Bring ’em back next year and put them in a bigger room!
Watch the video for ‘Are You Evil’ though the studio version is more metal than what we received on Friday.
Click to watch a bit of The Blizz from District
Forcing myself into Camp to see Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe was akin to a game of Twister which had gone badly, badly wrong. Just as silky smooth as their set at Manchester’s Ruby Lounge what they have is a wonderfully subtle sort of sleepy dance music and in Tess, a star.
Saturday saw a sky without even a hunt of a cloud. Franky after reading in Albert Docks and drinking a coffee supplied by The Man, going to the festival seemed a bit of a nuisance. Maybe shifting the event to February may help!
Radar Men From The Moon launched Saturday with the Dutch space rockers using their skimpy 30 minute time slot to fire up their nuclear brand of heavy riffing. An intensely propulsive rhythm section made the songs highly infectious. A spot of noise-for-the-sake-of-noise felt cliched but this was a masterful display.
I’d love to say that I spent the next 3 hours checking out music but I was enjoying drinking in the baking sun chatting to the numerous friends in the psych scene I have met over the last year. There is such a warm community around the scene now that enjoying the company is a crucial part of the Liverpool Psych Fest.
Dead Sea Apes are a different beast entirely. This band specialising in stately space-rock is now gravitating towards playing Viking battle hymns and their appearance was well-timed with their new album, Spectral Domain released Monday 26th. While many bands are lads playing at rock stars, DSA are simply three blokes. Together, Brett, Nick and Chris have an almost jazz-trio quality with each one providing a vital pillar to the music. It’s a triumvirate where each is equal. Chris on drums is worth a special mention, while scores of psych drummers are there simply to hold the groove (which we all love), he is one of the few you can just stand there and watch. It’s not that he has an extrovert character, just that he plays with an expansive, elaborate style that is rare these days.
Lumerians bought their quicksilver charms in the evening. Impossible to pigeonhole, their sound incorporates, to my ears, slabs of 70s funk and movie soundtracks while squirming a notion of space-rock in the Captain Kirk sense of space exploration. Bedecked in glittering golden cowls, the opening number was a little too low-key, with three synths bubbling away. When they turned to bass and guitar the heat was turned up. Cranking out the grooves, Camp soon got dancing. Throwing occasional scabby riffs into the mix the set became obliquely high energy. Finishing with a burning run through of ‘Shortwave Fields’, positively bristling with vigour, they were literally cut short as having over-run, the PAs were turned off. This led to a good old fashioned strop with the drums being kicked over. Looking around everyone seemed giddy. Transmalinnia is an essential psych album and Lumerians are a band deserving wider recognition.
Click to listen to ‘Shortwave Fields’
Finally, Italian band Mamuthones bought a pulsating brand of rigid electro to Blade factory. Coming somewhere between the jittery nerves of Talking Heads and concrete rhythms of Cabaret Voltaire they emit an endearing enthusiasm which powered a roughly strewn cover of ‘Sister Ray’ and a track which had the fingerprints of Rage Against The Machine. The last ‘proper’ track was a glorious 90s dance tinged tune eliciting some incredibly dorky white boy dancing down front. The last ‘actual’ track, which they claim is their next single, was a load of wanky noise and most people wandered off. Which is in the spirit of things I suppose but soured an enjoyable set.
How to sum up Liverpool Psych Fest? Not a clue… answers on a postcard…
Same time next year?